Friday, March 28, 2014

Cape Town

One of the biggest trends slated to hit the streets next Fall is the cape. I had planned to wait until next Autumn to do this tutorial, but last week after tuning into NBC's "Today" show, I saw co-anchor, Tamron Hall wearing this very stylish garment outside on the (Rockefeller) Plaza. Clearly the designers in the US have jumped the gun and rushed to get the cape into the stores, this Spring.

Originally introduced in Medieval times, the 1960's and 70's saw a rise in the popular of this swashbuckling outerwear garment. By day, the "cloak" as it is sometimes called, was cut from wool and tossed over the shoulders of a "mod" mini-suit. By night, it was glamorous, cut from satin, brocade or some other luxury fabric, while lending its wearer an undeniable Jackie Kennedy moment.

As fabulous as this outer garment can be, it is incredibly simple to create. Moreover, it lends itself to numerous interpretations.

We use the basic bodice slopers as a base. It provides sense of proportion of the body as well as the anchor of the shoulders and neckline which can be left as it or given the addition of a collar.

Begin by tracing the neckline and shoulder from the front bodice. Measure out about 3/8-inch (1 cm) from the side and draw a vertical line. For a single breasted cape, I've extended the front 1/4-inch (7mm) from the Center Front. And, of course, the length is whatever you want it to be.
For the back you will trace along the Center Back line, up to the neckline, and then over the tip shoulder. Then take the front cape draft and flip it over so that the shoulder lines up with that of the back sloper and the CF line is straight. Trace the new silhouette of this new front cape onto the back. Afterwards, cut out the pattern pieces, then line them up together side seams together. Make any adjustments you have to so that the front and back line up along the side. My basic cape is short enough such that my girl can still hold her bag. You can, however, put in a buttonhole armhole on either side of the center front should your doll decide to poke out her arms. I've added a simple collar to this cape.

Add seam allowance. You will probably want to line this, edge to edge. Use a single hook and eye to close the cape under the throat.

Here is the same cape but cut from panne velvet and trimmed in faux fur at the neckline and hemline.

Another popular style is a cape that has a front panel belted at the waist while the back falls freely. This is a very simple variation of our basic cape pattern.

For mine, I've decided to flare out the sides on either side. Take the cape we just drafted and from the tip of the shoulder (consult your basic sloper for the exact point), swing out to the desired flare. At the midpoint on the shoulder, I draw a vertical line straight down to the hemline. Make a mark down from the shoulder which will indicate how far down you should sew. (I placed the pattern against the doll to figure out at what point the arms would comfortably swing out from under the cape.) Cut the pattern in two, then add seam allowance to each. The back is all in one piece, however the sides swing out the same angle as the front. I have extended the front by 1/4" from the Center Front line (plus seam allowance.) For this particularly model, I attached a long rectangular scarf to the neckline of my cape. Simply, wrap the waist with the belt of your choice.

You can add as much flare as you want. Just remember to keep it consistent. Whatever flare you add to one side, you must add the same to all sides. For a full, 3-Mousketeers cape I, took my cape, (using an old-fashioned compass to get the proper arc.

Place the point at the tip of the shoulder and swing out by 90-degrees.

You will also add swing to the center. Begin at the neckline CF point and swing out by 90-degrees.

The back cape pattern will have a center back seam. Swing out the side by 45 degrees. Then swing out the top of the CB by 45 degrees. Be sure to mark the CB with an arrow so that you will lay your pattern on the correct grain of the fabric.

The hood on the doll below is part of the dress underneath. However, feel free to add a hood to your cape.

Night at the Opera.

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All images and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2014. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.

P.S. Check out our video tutorials on creating the basic slopers. They are at the very end of the original post.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to make slopers for the fashion doll Pt.1 (VIDEO)

Last year, when I began this blog, I posted tutorials on creating basic slopers. The hope was that those "basic blocks" would facilitate my visitors in following along with all of the other posts. I realize that this is virgin territory for many of you who are just getting started in the adventure of making doll clothes. So for all of you, who could use a little more help, I've created this series of, "How to make slopers for the fashion doll."
Though I feature mostly 11-1/2 to 12" dolls in this blog, the same instructions can be applied to any size doll! In fact, I created slopers for my 16" Tonner dolls using the same method!

Here, we begin with Part I: Measuring the doll for slopers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Paper Gladiators

Often, when working on a post, I have something specific in mind. Sometimes it works out as envisioned. Other times, I'm forced to rip things up and start anew. And then there are those rare times when things exceed my expectations so much so, I will remove an element out of the original theme and consecrate an entire new post on that item alone. Such is the case today.

By extension, this post is part of the one before, "Going Green." I found an old package of metallic doilies in a drawer and decided to see what I could do with them. The challenge, quite naturally, is creating something of "quality" from a horribly cheap material. Things can easily go very wrong. But au contraire! I was quite pleased with the results of this craft project. And though I'm not a huge fan of Donetella, these fashion items could very easily parade down one of her Versace couture catwalk shows.

Each packet of doilies will be different in design. This exercise shows how to start as well as the design decisions I made putting the garments together. Should you be tempted to make any of these paper treasures, just be aware that paper doilies are VERY fragile and rip easily. On the other hand, I only needed two doilies to make all four elements pictured. If need be, any mishaps are easily repaired! (And the mistakes don't show!) Think decoupage. Just keep gluing!

Ideally you should chose doilies that have lots of rosettes and/or medallions. For the long corset, I wanted the doll's "skin" to show through. So this garment is thin. I began by wrapping the doll's body with a little bit of plastic wrap (to protect it from glue).

Start by taping a medallion to her torso.

For the conical "bra," I folded over one of the spokes so that it becomes more 3-D and fits over the bust. I use a toothpick and some white craft glue (that dries clear). Continue to cut the medallions out and paste onto the other medallions in place until the doll is covered. If needed, cut the medallions so that they will conform to the doll's curves. By itself, a single layer structure is way too fragile. So you will need to keep adding and gluing on medallions on top of the original structure. This will provide a more "hammered metal" look. Be sure to glue on rosettes to secure fragile joints.

When it comes to the back... the medallions should over lap in the back.  I added two more sets of medallions at the point I designated to be the closure.

When you are finished. let the glue dry. Check to see that everything is well glued, adding additional medallions. When dry, cut the plastic wrap down the center back and carefully, very, very carefully peel the plastic away. If it sticks, it is better to use scissors to cut around the stuck parts. I used a small square of Velcro in a single spot to close. Or......

I made a second corset using the same method. But this time, I cut two strips of stretchy nylon (from some old  lingerie which I glued to each side. On the inside of the corset, over the point where I glued the strap, I added another medallion. If you can live with a tie at the back, it's perfect because all of the stress of closing is absorbed by the stretch ties and not the paper!

Then I decided to do a "girdle" which could be worn over a dress. The 1st two garments are too fragile, so this garment begins by first creating a girdle made of air-dried paper clay (found in crafts stores). Roll into a ball then press directly onto the doll to form this girdle. (Those FR dolls with the wasp waists have the perfect silhouette to wear this accessory.)  I let it dry a bit, then carefully remove it from the doll's body, allowing it to completely dry. Paint it the color of the dress it will be worn with (while it is off the doll). Now cover the doll's torso with plastic wrap and slide on the girdle.

Add the central medallion. Since the girdle is made of paper, you can use straight pins to hold it in place while you decide how you want the design to go. Then glue a central medallion in place, then add additional medallions or rosettes. Sometimes I cut the spokes so that the medallions conform to the girdle smoothly.

Continue until you are happy, adding additional layers until it is complete. When all the glue has dried, carefully remove the plastic. Since the girdle stays up by itself, you don't have to worry about any closures.

I could not stop there! So I made a pair of spats. I was afraid, however, that with all of the manipulation of getting the doll's leg in and out of this accessory, the paper medallions would not stay glued to the fabric.

So I created the basic form using air dried paper clay. You roll it in a ball and press over the doll's legs until it is thin enough to have a nice shape, but not so thin as to break. (It will look like her legs are in casts!) Since it's made of paper, you can use scissors to trim it. Let them dry and remove from the doll's legs. Paint. Then add the medallions. Though I loved the open-work of one layer, I still felt  additional layers of rosettes and medallions needed to be added for the illusion of hammered metal.

All images and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2014. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Going Green

Though Earth Day (April 22) is a little more than a month away, all of the "greenery" surrounding St. Patrick's Day started me thinking about recycling, re-purposing, and other reflections about....going green.

Did you know that old clothes represents one of the largest percentage of garbage polluting the landfills! According to the United States EPA Office of Solid Waste, American throw away more than 60 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, representing 6.4% of municipal solid waste from major cities. It is estimated that 2.5 billion pounds of clothes end up in landfills annually! This is largely the result of the glut of cheap clothing produced by mass market distributers who cater to our "Kleenex" society. Donating clothes to charities is one answer. But we'd like to offer another tiny solution as well.

Consider looking more closely at old clothes for your fabrics and trim resources before tossing them out. OR...consider thrift shops, garage or yard sales, or Salvation Army (Emais in France) or a similar charity organism when searching for interesting (and cheap) materials.

Lingerie is a great source for lace and trim.
Old petticoats, camisoles, bodysuits and even panties are great sources of lace and tiny elastic trim you can later use. Moreover. for the 12-inch doll, there is more than enough to make a spectacular evening dress. Remember the replica of Lupita's dress for Oscar night I made for my doll? I used an old, lace trim camisole of my mother's.

If the fabric is polyester or rayon and not very pretty, recuperate the lace then use the rest of the fabric for draping or trying out a new pattern. Sometimes I cut medallions or tiny rosettes out of the lace or a nightgown to applique onto another fabric. Old lingerie will also provide you with enough elastic lace for dolly delicates. And to be honest, instead of paying for 50cm of fabric in Paris, I bought a cheap pair of panties at the open air market which I cut up to make the Wrap Dress and the lace dress I made for the Gatsby series, last Spring.

Gatsby starts with a great stocking!

I also used part of the leg of a stockings for other Gatsby dresses. The material alone isn't always pretty, however, it can be shirred or gathered or beaded.

Richard in a sweater from dad's old sock.
Socks are also a great source. Wool or chunky winter socks make for great sweaters like this one we made for Ken or sweater dresses. Men's silky evening socks are good for slinky cocktail dresses for your Barbie.

Pocket Hankies and Scarves
Gail in mom's Irish linen hankies!
There's usually just enough fabric to make dolly a dress. Thrift shops usually have tons of these and some are even trimmed in English embroidery or needlepoint. I admit, I hate cutting into these. So feel free to drape a hankie or a scarf around your doll the same way you would for yourself. Add a belt, some jewelry and dolly's good to go.

Table Linens
Whether they are plain, embroidered or edged with a bit of lace, most table lines and decorative items like doilies and table runners are made from quality cotton or linen fabric. It probably won't be in the color you'd like, but there's nothing you can't fix with a little bit of dye and hot water.

Christmas Ribbon
In particular, Christmas Ribbon with the wire! Call it, Instant Couture. Don't toss it out after the presents have been opened. Reuse it! There are all sorts of things you can with this, starting with the addition of a nice perky collar or bodice added to a simple sheath dress. OR....a complete dress. I chose wide ribbon for this golden gown I created for a Doll Observers challenge. I made a simple, evening length skirt using an opaque gold ribbon. I played with the "outer" dress, stitching the sides together. I then played around with the effect, scrunching it into a side sweep effect or incorporating movement so that it appeared to be swishing around the doll's feet as she "walked."

Use Christmas ribbon for instant Couture!
The pouf and the little shrug around Arianna's shoulders was made by scrunching up the ribbon and bending it in place. It's not "serious" clothes, but it is sparkly, Christmas pretty and fun.

Gift Bags
You know those sheer gift bags that hold jewelry or slippers? The long, rectangular ones make gorgeous shawls!


Sissilie wearing a piece of dad's old jeans.
Skirts, shirts, pants or tops, there's plenty of fabric to keep you going for awhile. It's better if they are cut from natural fabrics because you can cut off what you need and dye it the color of your desires. Polyesters and synthetics are harder to work with. So you must decide if it's worth keeping and cutting up for doll clothes or donating in tact to be worn by a human. Worn out jeans will provide a lot of denim goodies for dolly. By the time the jeans are ready for the trash, they have been washed so many times, they should be soft enough to fashion into a garment. Old chambray shirts will still give you the look of denim without the bulk. Pictured here, I made this sheath dress using two pockets removed from my dad's worn out denims.
Use the fabric from old T-shirts to make new patterns.
Save old T-shirts and other men's underwear. The cotton knit in them can be used to drape patterns for stretchy garments as well as make T-shirts for the doll.

Zac's jacket & pants made from a vinyl belt.

The wide sash (self fabric) type belts are the best. There's usually enough fabric for a top, a skirt and sometimes even a pair of pants. That belt was made by folding the material in half and stitching down. Cut the belt open and press, then lay out your pattern. In fact, this guy's outfit was made out of a single, 3-1/2" wide vinyl belt.

As long as the yarn is not too thick, wool caps easily convert to simplified cocoon coats. Remember this furry cocoon I made a little while back? It's a cap!

An Added Bonus
My own clothing repurposed into doll fashions allows me to play and experiment with a lot more styles than if I had to purchase new fabric each time. And, some times, like many of you living in remote areas, I can't always get to a fabric store. My old garments provide me with a great alternative with an added bonus. When the garment is finished and on the doll, I can look at her and be reminded of the good times that me and my late mother had while wearing the same piece of fabric!

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Psssttttt.......For anyone that needed a little extra help with the Patrick Kelly Cocoon Coat....I have embedded a tutorial video on that page to accompany the text!!! I will be adding more videos in the coming weeks.

All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2014. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Doll's Eye View: Paris Fall '14 Fashions Pt. 2

The Paris market is the industry I know best. As I said in the previous post, designers will often trot out conceptual items to show off their creativity. Ultimately all of the sales action takes places in a showroom where modifications are discussed. Most of the international brands have teams of designers in each region of the world who, using the Paris catwalk as inspiration, will redesign the collection to suit the sensitivities of the customer base.

Paris helps move fashion forward. While the media tends to zero in and publicize the most outrageous, industry professionals dissect those designs looking for ideas that can be translated into mainstream styles. The craziest things sashaying down the runway may very well influence color palettes, fabric choices, even the color of makeup and the style of accessories we're likely to see on store shelves. So while I have focused largely on styles that I think can be translated into doll fashions, I have also included a few of those extreme items with the hope they might inspire you to take a few chances, be it with fabric, silhouette or mixtures of pattern, texture or print.
Midnight Chill
Again, there is a LOT of black all over the runways. What's new is that silhouettes have become more ample. Note how the trousers have a lot of fullness. Also note how skirts have so much more flare than in previous seasons.There is also attention drawn to the waist, marked with a variety of belts ranging from small to the great big cummerbunds.


Let's now take a walk on the wild side. I love the in-your-face "statement pieces" like Japanese designer, Junya Watanbe. I started to do something with....garbage bags to recreate the jacket to the extreme right. But we can use more noble materials like ribbon trim, poufs of satin, black silk flowers or frayed fabric to add surface texture to an otherwise simple jacket or parka!

The Style That Shagged Me

As with every other market, there are lots of fur jackets and coats. However, here in Paris, designers have also explored the notion of shaggy fabrics and fibers. If you knit, you should chose those gorgeous yarns with lots of bits and fibers. Or, look for fabrics that shimmy or even those with shaggy bits of torn, frayed fabric added to the surface. Use them to make a jacket or coat or in touches as a trim.

A Touch of Class
Of course there were full length fur coats. However by now, we've seen this all before. So I'm featuring furry bits used as trim, as a collar, or a stole. For the most part fur remains in neutrals and greys. But feel free to add a pop of color to your dolly's wardrobe with a bold colored bolero.

Animal Crackers

Texture is one of the most important elements in fashion for next Fall/Winter. That includes bold animal patterns that are printed, embossed, stamped woven into the fabric. Again...keep things simple with an easy to wear, easy to make silhouette.

Stain Glass
There's not a total black out in Paris. The best looking use of color is found in abstract patterns. The color is intense. The patterns mesmerizing. The silhouettes are, again, simple. A touch of "foil" adds a bit of spark.

Miyake's Sound Waves
With Issey Miyake, we love the organic shapes and, the pleated fabric cut into interesting shapes.

Valentino's Autumn Florals
Very feminine silhouettes are drenched in a somber color palette shaped into florals. There's a bit of metallic here, but subdued. Note how the dresses are simple bodice with flared skirts. And again, the appearance of the cape!

Palette Cleanser
 No glitz. An odd assortment of glamour. Variations on the notion of eveningwear. It's as simple as black and white.

Inkjet Florals
Super chunky embroidered flowers on a flesh tone base, we love the drama of it all. You can use lace, lace trim  stitched to a sheer fabric to achieve the essence of these dresses.

Again, there are many, many things on this page I intend to revisit!!!

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